When I first came to Poland, I spent many of my weekends in Poznan. One such weekend, I passed by the symphony hall and noticed there was an international violin competition going on. I think it was the last day, and of course I was too late to get tickets. And it only happens every 5 years, so I kind of figured I was out of luck, seeing as I didn't plan on spending a while lot more time in Poland.
Ten years later, I finally made it to the competition. It was the last night of the final round, and I got to hear 3 concertos I'd never heard before, performed (it turns out) by the first and last place contestants. They both did the same Sibelius concerto, and each of them performed a Wieniawski concerto as well. Makes sense, since the competition is named for him. And yes, there was a marked difference in their abilities.
I do wonder if there was a bit of a home-field advantage, as the first place winner is a Pole. Regardless, she was amazing. I didn't hear any of the other contestants, but from the way she played on Saturday, I sure would have voted for her!
Anyway, it's one of those things I've wanted to do for a long time, but didn't think was ever going to happen. I'm very happy to have been proven wrong.